Alumni & Friends
Check out what some of our recent Anthropology, Geography, and Geographic Information Science alumni are up to these days. Anthropology graduate Dani Alexander (class of 2018) conducted and drafted the anthropology alumni interviews as part of a practicum project with Dr. Teresa Raczek. Dr. Garrett Smith collected the geography alumni bios. Prof. Uli Ingram collected the GIS alumni bios.
Ann Bailey, Anthropology, 2011
Ann Bailey graduated with a B.S. degree in Anthropology from Kennesaw State University in 2011. She serves as an Operations Support Engineer with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and also sits on KSU’s Department of Geography and Anthropology Advisory Board. Her position at Hewlett Packard Enterprise is “part operations, part project management, and part business analysis.” She analyzes data to develop and implement action plans, reach goals and improve customer experience. As she researches the impact of projects to the various departments of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, she says that she applies the same approach to research that she learned in the anthropology program at KSU.
Shortly after her Introduction to Anthropology class, Ann Bailey took a senior level course with Dr. Susan Kirkpatrick Smith, cementing her desire to study anthropology for her undergraduate degree. Studying anthropology made a lasting impact: “I try to wrap my head around things that I don't quite understand…That's been something incredibly hard from an anthropological perspective, to see other humans doing certain things. It’s just opened my mind and brought perspective to things that I don't think I necessarily had perspective on before. It forces my thinking to fight for the person who needs the voice versus fighting for the people who already have the voice.”
While she chose KSU because it was close to her home, it allowed her to interact with new people and new ideas. It became the place that broadened her perspective and provided experiences she may not have otherwise had. She will be pursuing an MBA at Georgia State in January in order to advance her career in IT.
Duncan Balinger, Anthropology, 2014
Duncan Balinger graduated with a B.S. degree in Anthropology from Kennesaw State University in 2014. He teaches English alongside his wife, in Kyrgyzstan as a Peace Corps Volunteer and sees anthropology at work in his daily life: “A large part of working with the Peace Corps is, obviously, working with another culture. We're living with a host family and we're integrating into small communities, although my community is actually a city.” Not only does he get to experience a new culture, but Balinger gets to experience other people’s introduction to a different culture as well.
Anthropology helps Balinger in his daily life. “Anthropology definitely makes me try to think about why people do certain things, like why they do it the way they do it. It's more about not judging and thinking, culturally, why people are the way they are. I think that's been the more valuable thing: being open to new things and seeing and experiencing all the different parts of culture.”
While at KSU, Balinger excavated in Belize with Dr. Terry Powis and researched in India with Dr. Teresa Raczek. Her Archaeology of Identity class helped him see how archaeology could inform modern human behavior. Between graduating and joining the Peace Corps, Balinger spent almost three years working in CRM. He worked as both an archaeological field technician and, eventually, as a crew chief, supervising in the field. Dr. Powis and other alumni had connections that allowed him to spring board himself into the field. He recommends making as many connections as possible, both with professors and fellow anthropology students.
For anyone interested in the Peace Corps, Balinger says: “As far as Peace Corps goes, anyone who is interested in joining, just know that it is a two-year commitment…It requires a lot of flexibility, you have to move your life overseas and it changes a lot. It helps to be a couple; a lot of people apply as a married couple. I think it’s worth it, as an anthropologist, if you want to experience a culture and live in that culture for two years.”
Charles Brummeler, Anthropology, 2015
Charles Brummeler graduated with a B.S. degree in Anthropology from Kennesaw State University in 2015. He is a Senior Archaeological Technician at Edwards-Pitman Environmental, Inc.. He conducts environmental surveys for Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) projects to ensure that no archaeological sites will be disturbed during construction. “A lot of what I do now is report writing. That incorporates not just what we find in the field, but putting that within the context of what may have been going on historically in the area. There's an aspect of understanding cultures of areas and towns and how different cultures in an area might interact.” He also does community outreach, “I would say a lot of my cultural skills play into my success in identifying which groups to reach out to.”
Dr. Terry Powis recommended Brummeler for the position and he emphasizes the power of making good connections during college. Dr. Teresa Raczek also served as a mentor; he went with her twice to India and took one of her archaeology courses. “I moved more towards the archeological side of things when I took a class called Archaeology of Identity that Dr. Raczek taught one semester. It really was more than the basic archaeology courses. That class was more of a blending of the theoretical like cultural side of things and how that stuff presents itself in the archeological practice.”
Brummeler says that, “I think anthropology does a lot to show that there's more to the story than what most people usually see when they first look at a subject.” His advice to undergraduate students: “Specifically for archaeology, KSU has a GIS certificate (Geographic Information Science certificate). Get that certificate. Outside of archaeology, I would say just try and find something that you can become an expert on….and then just try and connect to people who are already working at that subject or maybe in subjects peripheral to it.”
Savana Deems, Anthropology, 2016
Savana Deems graduated with a B.S. degree in Anthropology from Kennesaw State University in 2016, and is currently a Project Manager/Archaeologist at Environmental Corporation of America (ECA). When Deems first began working at ECA, she was a Tribal Consultant and Project Manager, a position that she says was more cultural anthropology focused as it required Deems to consult federally recognized tribes about proposed construction projects. She would contact tribal leaders and consult with them about the projects to ensure that nothing of religious or cultural significance was impacted. Now, her current position allows Deems to get out into the field: “We handle a lot of federal projects and I'm assigned different projects across the U.S. I handle everything from conducting interviews and notifying newspapers, to doing the archaeology and writing all reports that go into a new project with federal government.” Continue reading the full interview with Savana Deems by Dani Alexander.
Paola Garcia, Anthropology, 2014
Paola Garcia graduated with a B.S. degree in Anthropology from Kennesaw State University in 2014. She currently serves as Admissions Specialist at Year Up, an organization that offers a one-year IT workforce development program to urban young adults with no viable pathway to college or a professional career (www.yearup.org). Garcia’s task is to assist applicants through the admissions process, including the interview process. She acquired the interviewing skills and ethnographic writing she uses every day from her major in anthropology. Paola is also the lead for the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion initiatives locally, and she sits on the Diversity Advisory Council for the national organization. Garcia uses her anthropology skills to lead the local committee that delivers workshops to students on topics of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Continue reading the full interview with Paola Garcia by Dani Alexander.
Megan Hoogstad, Anthropology, 2013
Megan Hoogstad graduated with a B.S. degree in Anthropology from Kennesaw State University in 2013. She works in medical device manufacturing at Cryolife, one of the largest donated human tissue processing labs in the United States. Since starting there after graduation as a Laboratory Assistant, she has been promoted three times and is now a PhotoFix Team Lead, preparing tissue for surgical vascular repair. Hoogstad initially found the position through a coworker who thought she would be a good fit. Although she was initially resistant to pursuing a long-term career in the field, she now has plans to stay.
Hoogstad argues that biological anthropology and forensic anthropology provide a good background for this field. Her practicum at the Historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta drew the attention of her employer when she was interviewed. Cultural anthropology provided interview skills as well as skills in notation and documentation that Hoogstad uses regularly. She says, “I have really good interview skills from being in anthropology and doing cultural anthropology. So that helps me in conversations in the workplace and…how to talk to people and how to get, you know, the answers…how to give people enough time to answer questions. So I think, having studied anthropology I find it easier to talk to people.”
She also credits Dr. Terry Powis’ Belize study abroad as one of her best memories. Hoogstad’s advice to students: “Really don't be afraid to try anything even if it's not in your field. When I was studying anthropology, I felt like the only way to get a job was to go through graduate school and do all these other steps. I felt like by studying anthropology I had to take a job in that field or I was essentially a failure. And that's not what happened. I got a job not in anthropology, but I use my anthropology skills daily and I love my job. So just don't be afraid to take what you can and take any job opportunities you can. You never know who you're going to be and what doors can open up doing something that's not your field.”
Vivien Kibble, Anthropology, 2016
Vivien Kibble is currently a Lab Assistant for the company Corrdesa, a company that develops corrosion prediction software for military aircraft. Anthropology taught her basic lab skills including how to conduct research, analyze data, and write up results in a scientific format. She uses these skills in research and development of corrosion prevention and communication for Corrdesa customers. The opportunity to gain practical and technical knowledge in physical anthropology at KSU guided Kibble’s career choice.
Kibble says that anthropology taught her to listen. “It’s taught me that it doesn't matter what you go into, you can't just jump to conclusions, you can't just assume.” She also argues that anthropology prepared her to work with colleagues who come from countries all over the world. I think it teaches you to be more compassionate. It's taught me to be more intrigued, more involved.” Being involved is something that Kibble views highly. She credits Drs. Smith and Gooding for her success today. Her time at KSU was greatly improved by the faculty and the amount of dedication they had to students.
“The KSU professors, by far, they are 90% of why I would ever choose the program, aside from the general love for the whole field. You actually have doctorates here that are invested in you, it’s not just getting you through the course…they take the work and the time to help you with your research, its not just here's your assignment, just go and do it. They actually promote your self-interests in it.”
Kibble will be pursuing a Master of Arts in Anthropology next fall. Her advice to those unsure if they want to acquire another degree: “I would say explore all of your options…because there's no guarantee that you'll go straight into your field. The more skillsets you acquire, the better suited you are to get jobs in between that get you to the end of your goal. Anthropology provides that.”
Will McKenna, Anthropology, 2012
Will McKenna currently works as a Development Associate with Georgia Tech, raising funds to support student affairs on campus. He describes the work supporting student groups as fun and rewarding. Anthropology taught McKenna the skills in interviewing, critical thinking, and communication that allow him to stand out in his career. He says that, “having a degree in anthropology makes me stand out as a candidate. And in a lot of job interviews that I've had, that's been a talking point where people have asked me and I've been able to say I have a degree that specializes in people and allows me to communicate and relate and see things from the other side of the table. It’s made me, I think, a more attractive candidate in competing for jobs.”
“One of the things that impressed my previous employer so much at the job interview is that they asked about transferable skills from anthropology: I told them that it taught me to look at the full picture. I used as an example a pottery sherd. Looking at the striations, looking at the materials within the little piece of pottery and whether or not there were burn marks on one side versus the other, whether it was rolled pottery and all the information that you could glean from something the size of a quarter, essentially, or slightly bigger.”
As a non-traditional student, Will McKenna already had some career experience in the auto finance industry when he started his degree. He was looking for a career change and came to KSU to acquire a history degree. However, after his first week in Dr. Susan Kirkpatrick Smith’s Introduction to Anthropology, he fell in love with the subject and changed his major. After completing his Anthropology degree, McKenna returned to pursue an MBA from Kennesaw State, graduating in 2016.
Jenn Parent, Anthropology, 2014
Jenn Parent graduated with a B.S. degree in Anthropology from Kennesaw State University in 2014. She is currently a Museum Reference Archivist at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. After graduating from KSU, Parent received a Masters in Library and Information Sciences in 2017 from the University of Washington. She started at the Museum as a Processing Archivist and was later promoted to her current position.
Parent works with flight related collections including items related to the Wright brothers, plane blueprints, stewardess documentation, etc. “When a collection comes in from a donor it has to be processed which means it needs to be put in some kind of order and cataloged. It needs to be given controlled vocabulary so that it has access points for researchers who are looking for it. That was my initial job…Now my primary job is all of our reference inquiries.”
Parent chose her undergrad in anthropology to prepare her for a career as a librarian. “Anthropology is a good mix because it provides me an understanding of a lot of different societies and it also provides me flexibility and context understanding...I don't make assumptions. I look at things kind of more holistically.”
As a non-traditional student, Parent felt supported and encouraged by the faculty. “There were a good handful of us that were interested in moving out into museums or libraries and not necessarily more traditional anthropology fieldwork. [Professors] would often try to tailor or find assignments for us that could be used on a resumé or something that would help us develop in that particular area.”
Parent says that anthropology taught her that “You never have all the information. I think what that means for me is that a lot of times I'm okay without a black and white answer. Instead, I have flexibility and adaptability and I can look at things multiple ways and holistically to see what might be the best path.”
Raymond Jennings, Geography, 2014
Raymond Jennings graduated with a B.A. degree in Geography from Kennesaw State University in 2014. For a year now, Raymond has been working on a master’s program in geography at the Sorbonne in Paris, the “City of light”. Interestingly, the game of soccer and its global enjoyment sparked Raymond’s desire to study world geography. His geographical interests grew as he attended KSU. where he found that the geography faculty were always supportive and engaging. The first domino fell into place for Raymond when he attended study abroad in 2012, spending a semester in Tours, France. Living abroad was a big jump where the culture, customs, and language were dramatically different from what he knew. He had the opportunity to live abroad again two years later, after graduating with his B.A. degree in Geography from KSU, advised by Professors Mitchelson and Smith throughout his time as an undergraduate. Considering his prior experience in France, Raymond decided that studying geography at the Sorbonne made a great deal of sense. Having a preference for cultural geography related to language, Raymond decided to enter a program that allows him to apply what he learned in the classroom at KSU to his classes at the Sorbonne. Raymond has chosen a path that allows him the advantages of international experience and earning a graduate degree from an overseas university. See storymap created by Raymond
Hannah Knab, Geography, 2017
Hannah Knab graduated with a B.A. degree in Geography and a Certificate in Geographic Information Science (GIS) from Kennesaw State University in May of 2017. During her college career, she had the privilege to work with the Sustainability Office at KSU and created Kennesaw State’s first interactive sustainability web maps. This opportunity guided her to her internship with the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Department of Urban Agriculture. There, she was able to assist in the development of Atlanta’s first food forest and generated maps of the west side of Atlanta to present to a program called Choice Neighborhood. After graduation and determined networking, she was able to start working as a City Planner for the City of Norcross in the Community Development Department as of December of 2017. Her roles include issuing building permits and certificate of occupancies, coordinating all sustainable initiatives within the City and the Sustainable Norcross Commission, and leading all GIS projects. Now she can fulfill her dreams to help bring people together and make strides to live in an ecofriendly community.
Lauren Parkinson, Geography, 2015
Lauren Parkinson graduated with a B.A. degree in Geography and a minor in International Affairs in 2015. While at KSU, Lauren collaborated with Dr. Vanessa Slinger-Friedman as a research assistant in her NCGE (National Council for Geographic Education) funded research and also co-authored a chapter on the island of St. Lucia in a book titled, “Landscapes and Landforms of the Lesser Antilles” published by Springer Publishers in 2017 as part of their World Geomorphology series. Due to Lauren's interest in global issues and passion for travelling she participated in several study abroad experiences include programs to Italy, China, and several European countries. Lauren is currently working as a LiDAR/GIS technician at Southeastern Engineering. She gives credit to her research experience with Dr. Slinger-Friedman for helping her secure her job, “I don't think I could have gotten this job without the opportunities you afforded me at KSU…I am learning A LOT and really love this company (Southeastern Engineering (SEI))….I normally work in researching properties we are asked to survey by pulling deeds and plats and drawing them in AutoCAD, drafting line work for topo/utilities, working with LiDAR data, and working as a Visual Observer to our drone pilot. I've been studying to take the test that would allow me to become a drone pilot myself.” Lauren says that Grad school may be in the future for her, but for now, she is just focusing on learning as much as she can at SEI, “I have a feeling that everything I am learning here, I can use in whatever is my next step.”
Nick Price, Geography, 2014
Nick Price graduated with a B.A. degree in Geography from Kennesaw State University in 2014 with a plan to pursue a post-graduate degree in geography or a related field. Georgia Tech accepted Nick in its Building Construction and Facility Management (BCFM) graduate program. During his time in the BCFM program, Nick gained more knowledge in project management principles and processes. After graduating from Georgia Tech, Nick received an opportunity to work in the IT field as a project manager. Even though he does not have a degree in computer science or information technology he is able to use his geography degree in his day-to-day professional activities. Currently, Nick is an IT project manager for Amdocs Corporation-AT&T Division. Amdocs is a software and service provider for various media, communications and technology companies. Nick’s projects provide analytical support and business value to various AT&T entities company-wide. He uses geography every day to determine best times to host teleconferences depending on team member’s location and to check which markets are most impacted through his work.
Geographic Information Science
Robbie Bagby, Geographic Information Science, 2013
Robbie Bagby graduated with a B.S. degree in Geographic Information Science (GIS) from Kennesaw State University in May 2013. While at KSU, he was a GIS Intern for the Bartow County and Etowah Valley Historical Society where he mapped Civil War features, Native American villages, and reconstructed digital representations of archaeological sites from sketches and descriptions. He also worked with the Solar Land Surveying and Mapping, where he created residential, commercial, and topographic survey maps from field data collection. In May 2013, he began working with Cherokee County GIS as a technician, and was subsequently promoted to analyst, where he maintained enterprise GIS data and created a GIS website to aid in finding geospatial information throughout the county. In January 2016, Robbie began working with the Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency. In this role, he coordinates with local, state, federal, and private sector partners to provide situation awareness to critical decision makers about hazards (natural and made made) that pose a threat to people and property before, during, and after emergency events. His GIS internship helped him learn concepts about web GIS that gave him a competitive advantage for his first job at Cherokee County. He believes that internship experiences take what students learn in the classroom and further their abilities by forcing them to learn on the job and with real life situations.
Michael Bellino, Geographic Information Science, 2014
Michael Bellino graduated with a B.S. degree in Geographic Information Science (GIS) from Kennesaw State University in 2014. Currently, he is a GIS Analyst with the Forsyth County GIS Department, where he works to make GIS a central part of the way the county makes decisions. Michael helped the county implement an open GIS data portal that lets citizens access local information. He is responsible for working directly with multiple departments on identifying project goals, needs, approaches and solutions. Prior to working at Forsyth County, Michael worked for Davey Resource Group in Alpharetta, Georgia as an intern and then lead-geospatial analyst. In the Spring of 2018 Michael began a Master’s program in Geospatial Services from Northeastern University. He aims to complete this degree within the next few years while continuing to serve the citizens of Forsyth County, Georgia. Michael believes the fundamental spatial analysis skills that he acquired from Kennesaw State University are instrumental in driving his GIS professional and educational careers. See the Michael Bellino storymap
George Thompson, Geographic Information Science, 2009
George Thompson graduated with a B.S. degree in Geographic Information Science (GIS) with a concentration in Urban Planning and a certificate in Information Technology (IT) from Kennesaw State University in May of 2009. After graduating, he worked with the Flood Hazard Management group at Atkins, creating all the mapping products for FEMA’s flood mapping program. In the fall of 2013, he used his experience working with Esri’s technology at Atkins to secure a job at Esri as a Geodatabase Analyst. He is now a Technical Advisor/Consultant with Esri and is responsible for the strategic and technical vision of Esri clients using GIS. He has given presentations on floodplain mapping at conferences all over the US and at the National ASFPM conference in 2013. George feels that KSU’s GIS program gave him the confidence and technical/professional tools he needed to be successful in his GIS career. See the George Thompson storymap
Anthropology Alumni Get-Together in December 2019
In this brief video, three graduates of our degree programs describe their experiences.